In my last few posts I have been explaining some uses of Office 365 to create collaborative activities using PowerPoint or Excel. In this post, I am going to look at Microsoft Word. Word could be used to create a collaborative learning activity in a similar way to the PowerPoint example, but it is set so that only one person can edit one paragraph at a time – therefore careful consideration is required when designing such an activity. In this example I am going to look at the mechanism of student feedback following assessment and h the collaborative nature can be very useful.
If I look at what might happen in colleges, universities and some schools at the present:
- Teacher produces an assignment brief and gives this to the learner.
- Learner completes assignment and hands it in.
- Teacher marks the work and fills in a feedback sheet, hands work and feedback sheet back to learner.
- Learner fills in the box on feedback sheet where they reflect on the assignment and their action plan to solve any updates required.
- At end of term, teacher realises learner hasn’t updated their assignment – contacts learner.
- Learner has lost feedback sheet so has forgotten what needs doing.
- Teacher re-issues feedback sheet (luckily they have a copy).
- Student does updates, hands work back in.
- Teacher remarks work, fills in anew feedback sheet with the additional feedback and final grade.
Although the above may sound like a tedious drawn out exaggeration, I am sure that many will see similarities with current practices – and whatever ones system, whether paper and pen or electronic there is almost always a significant amount of files moving from place to another and there is seldom an efficient loop where the students use the tutors feedback to help them with their updates or future assignments.
So here is one suggestion. We create a single Word document that is going to contain all of the information relating to that assignment – and this will be used by both tutor and student. This will contain the brief for the assessment, the list of criteria being covered/assessed, and area for the student to reflect on the assignment, areas for the teacher to give feedback, and space for them to add additional information if the work is referred and needs to be upgraded.
Once this document has been created – all the tutor has to do is to share this with the learner through OneDrive (the new name for SkyDrive). The learner and the tutor are now accessing the same document. If the tutor wants to have a situation where all of the students marked work is returned at the same time, rather than piecemeal – they can quickly remove the students sharing rights, mark all of the work and then re-share it.
One of the key reasons why this technique hasn’t worked in the past, is the verification process needs to see the different versions of the work and the feedback given – which in turn lead to the notion of creating lots of different documents. The beauty of using Office 365 and OneDrive is there is a built in history and version mechanism.
With this you can see any previous versions including who made the changes and you can restore or download any of the versions at a later date if required by an IV or EV.
Having one file to deal with rather than lots of files is easier for the tutor and the student to manage. There are less chances of error due to people using the wrong version of those files, and from a teaching and learning perspective having all of the information in one place for the student is far more likely for them to reflect on the feedback and change their behaviour as a result.
I hope that as organisations start to use Office 365 more and more, there is a real effort for people to think about what they are doing and why – and how these technical advancements can make a huge difference to our overall efficiency and effectiveness.